Domestic migrations in Spain during its first industrialisation, 1840s-1870s Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2020

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1863-2505

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1863-2513


  • Using an original microeconomic database with information for around 200,000 individuals, this paper creates new estimates of internal migrations in Spain in a key moment of its economic history. Our analysis shows that internal migrations were not a linear process including both periods of stagnation and also rapid growth, and that the 1850s were a decade of surprising high mobility in the absence of modern transportation. We also conclude that the rise in mobility was geographically asymmetrical with traditional urban centres losing ground against the rise of Madrid and Barcelona. The modernisation of the country also had significant social impacts with the migratory gender gap being significantly reduced prior to 1870. An analysis of the determinants of internal migrations suggests that traditional push and pull factors described by the literature in the early twentieth century seem to be also behind the early migrations of the mid-nineteenth century. The modernisation of the country provided new opportunities in urban areas that, combined with falling transport and information costs, created the perfect conditions for the ‘democratisation" of long-distance migrations.


  • Economics
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Politics
  • Sociology


  • migrations; spain; gender gap; industrialisation